Numerous people sent me links to this story involving public schools in Kansas City.
Please consider Kansas City Closing 26 Public Schools
Facing potential bankruptcy, the board that governs the once flush-with-cash Kansas City school district is taking the unusual and contentious step of shuttering almost half its schools.
Administrators say the closures are necessary to keep the district from plowing through what little is left of the $2 billion it received as part of a groundbreaking desegregation case.
The Kansas City school board narrowly approved the plan to close 29 out of 61 schools Wednesday night at a meeting packed with angry parents. The schools will close before the fall.
Emotional board member Duane Kelly told the crowd of more than 200 people Wednesday night, “This is the most painful vote I have ever cast” in 10 years on the board. Some chanted for the removal of the superintendent, while one woman asked the crowd, “Is anyone else ready to homeschool their children?”
Under the approved plan, teachers at six other low-performing schools will be required to reapply for their jobs, and the district will try to sell its downtown central office. It also is expected to cut about 700 of the district’s 3,000 jobs, including about 285 teachers.
District officials face dozens of issues as they begin the massive job of downsizing the district — reworking school bus routes, figuring out what to do with vacant buildings and slashing its payroll.
Superintendent John Covington has stressed that the district’s buildings are only half-full as its population has plummeted amid political squabbling and chronically abysmal test scores. The district’s enrollment of fewer than 18,000 students is about half of what the schools had a decade ago and just a quarter of its peak in the late 1960s.
This problem did not happen overnight. School enrollment is half what it was 10 years ago. So why did it take 10 years for the district to do something?
Please note that Covington took the job in July 2009 according to Wikipedia. On that basis he can be commended for doing a job long neglected for 10 years.
Flashback March 16, 1998
Inquiring minds are reading Money And School Performance: Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment.
For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, “You can’t solve educational problems by throwing money at them.” The education establishment and its supporters have replied, “No one’s ever tried.” In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.
Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil–more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers’ salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.
The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.
The Kansas City experiment suggests that, indeed, educational problems can’t be solved by throwing money at them, that the structural problems of our current educational system are far more important than a lack of material resources, and that the focus on desegregation diverted attention from the real problem, low achievement.
The Kansas City Story
In 1985 a federal district judge took partial control over the troubled Kansas City, Missouri, School District (KCMSD) on the grounds that it was an unconstitutionally segregated district with dilapidated facilities and students who performed poorly. In an effort to bring the district into compliance with his liberal interpretation of federal law, the judge ordered the state and district to spend nearly $2 billion over the next 12 years to build new schools, integrate classrooms, and bring student test scores up to national norms.
It didn’t work. When the judge, in March 1997, finally agreed to let the state stop making desegregation payments to the district after 1999, there was little to show for all the money spent. Although the students enjoyed perhaps the best school facilities in the country, the percentage of black students in the largely black district had continued to increase, black students’ achievement hadn’t improved at all, and the black-white achievement gap was unchanged.(1) …..
Every Child Left Behind For Decades
Throwing money at the problem wasted $2 billion. Now the district faces bankruptcy, and is forced to abandon now decaying schools bought with wasted taxpayer money.
In Kansas City, as in Detroit, every child was left behind … for decades.
Closing schools is the correct decision. Moreover, Superintendent Covington needs to fire every hopeless school administrator as well, which may in fact be almost all of them.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List